Justin Verlander threw 125 pitches last night to get through 5 innings. He's pitched more than 5 innings in only one of four starts this season. And his pitch count seems something of a mystery.
Here are the facts:
Verlander is tied with Rich Harden for the lead among qualified AL pitchers with 4.36 pitches per plate appearance. Yet Verlander's strike percentage (69%) is No. 2 in the AL behind only Scott Baker, who goes 3.71 pitches per plate appearance. In fact, among the top 19 pitchers in the category, Verlander is the only one averaging more than 4 pitches/PA.
First-strike percentage? Verlander (67%) is No. 3 in the AL. Among the top 21 in that category, Verlander is one of two pitchers to average more than 4.01 pitches/PA.
Verlander is tied for No. 2 in percentage of pitches swung at (50%). He is tied for 29th in contact percentage (82%). He is 33rd in swinging strikes (13%).
Yet, Verlander's BB/9 is the second worst of his career so far this season (3.68). The only other time his BB/9 was over 3 for a season was 2008 when he was 11-17 with a 4.84 ERA. Otherwise, he's 54-24 with a 3.57 ERA.
Also, Verlander has gone 0-2 on 34 of 95 PAs. That's 36% while the AL average is 22. He's thrown 23 strikes on 0-2, but has only 5 three-pitch Ks. He's given up two hits on 0-2.
I have to contemplate what these numbers mean. I guess batters simply are waiting out Verlander.